It is often said that bedside nursing is a “young person’s game.” As your professional career advances and 12-hour shifts on your feet become a physical hardship, you may begin to consider transitioning your love for nursing in a different way. For many nurses who are interested in a late-career change, becoming a nurse educator is an attractive choice. Experienced nurses with BSN degrees may consider a career as an educator, as the next generation of nurses comes into sight.
The Need for Nurse Educators
Founded in 1893, the National League for Nursing (NLN) champions the pursuit of quality nursing education for all types of nursing education programs. According to a 2009 press release, then NLN president Dr. Elaine Tagliareni stated that nearly half (42.8 percent) of nurse faculty were projected to retire within the next decade and nearly three-quarters (69.7 percent) within 15 years. Her “grave concern” involved replacing this valuable resource. This translates into increasing career possibilities for the next generation of nurse educators.
Preparation for the Role
Nurse educators in academic settings usually hold at least a master’s degree, but a doctoral degree is typically required at the university level. Nurse educators who work in clinical settings typically hold a baccalaureate degree in nursing, but many institutions are requiring the master’s degree. Once prepared, there are many venues for possible employment, such as (1) Colleges and universities; (2)Junior or community colleges; (3) Hospital education departments; and (4) Online degree programs using distance learning technology.
Available Resources for Nurse Educators
Nurse Educator is a peer-reviewed journal that provides practical and applied information on both the theories and practice of academic nursing education. Recent journal articles include:
- Optimizing Use of Course Management Systems
- Predictors of Success on Medication Calculation Tests
- Questioning: A Teaching Strategy to Foster Clinical Thinking and Reasoning
- Building Evidence-Based Practice into the Foundations of Practice
- Student Engagement Through Podcasting
Additional information can be found: http://journals.lww.com/nurseeducatoronline.
The Professional Nurse Educator Group (PNEG) is a virtual network of educators from all over the United States. This group is dedicated to the lifelong learning of professional nurses and is open to all educators in the field. (No formal process to join, membership list or dues) This group offers:
- A forum for networking, exchanging information and discussing issues/ideas
- Resources to mentor new persons in the field
- An Annual Conference
- A PNEG listserv
Additional information can be found: http://pneg.org/.
Great Reasons for Becoming a Nurse Educator
Countless reasons exist for investigating this career option. Here are a few:
- Make a Difference – Teachers have the chance to touch the lives of tomorrow’s patients, via the hands, minds and hearts of future nurses. Many educators receive great satisfaction from watching a student develop knowledge, skills and a professional identity.
- Infinite Variety – Every new class of students has a different personality, skill set and bank of experience. Because of this, teaching is rarely uninteresting as students usually prompt a teacher to dig deeper about a topic.
- Predictable Vacations – Schools of nursing set their academic calendar a year at a time. It is easy to see when classes stop and start, so you can plan the rest of your life. Many nurses especially like this feature, as family and personal time can be planned. Most schools also offer the summer off – and faculty has the option of getting another job, teaching summer school or just relaxing with other interests and pursuits.
Did you know that over 650 schools of nursing are members of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN)? That vast amount of potential employers could translate into incredible job possibilities as a nurse educator. So, becoming a nurse educator is certainly something to consider. Using your vast amounts of experience to impact the next generation of nurses can reward your self-worth and your career as well.